Great Jones Street

ISBN: 0140179178
ISBN 13: 9780140179170
By: Don DeLillo

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Reader's Thoughts

Ilya Kavalerov

I started this book with empathy for the macho-nihilist for the lead character. This made the book open in an unusually way for DeLillo, since it was relatable, and therefore egotistically engaging. Soon, it went back to the DeLillo norm, which is wacky silliness, stimulating only disbelief. Still not as good as Mao II for me. I might even be too optimistic with the 4 start rating, since I am jaded by my special interest in the book's subject matter (lead is a rock god).


La consueta critica alla modernità qui si concentra sul mondo del rock, o almeno vorrebbe farlo: trovo che la (sub)cultura musicale qui non si veda per nulla, e per un romanzo che dall'inizio alla fine è narrato in prima persona da una rockstar di fama mondiale è un bel buco.Ho molto amato altri libri di DeLillo, ma questo l'ho finito a fatica: verboso e vuoto, si risolleva nel finale. C'è da dire che è del 1973, e che in seguito la padronanza del linguaggio per quello che ho potuto constatare si è evoluta molto.

Jordan Munn

I'd read White Noise prior to Great Jones Street, and it was surprising to see a few connections between the two books, especially given the time between the two. I liked the themes of supersaturation of a personality into a society, the ensuing turmoil, questions regarding personal identity versus social identity, and personal privacy. The book moves pretty easily and doesn't bog down at all. The plot gives enough twists, tosses in just enough rock-and-roll mystique, and sparkles with enough humor to make it pretty even. Enjoyable read.

Bruce Watson

Before there was "Spinal Tap," Don DeLillo plumbed the absurdity of rock music celebrity in "Great Jones Street." With shades of his later (and better) "White Noise," he goes straight for the jugular, even adding lyrics, reviews, and celebrity interviews. Thus, although the novel was written in 1972, it has lost none of its punch. DeLillo's disillusioned rock star, Bucky Wunderlick, delivers and overhears monologues of delightful inanity, all the while searching for some meaning in his mindless universe. Dark, cynical, contemporary, and very funny.


Let me begin by saying that the first chapter of this book is a 5-star chapter. No doubt about it. And the first sentence...yeah, that's a 5-star sentence. "Fame requires every kind of excess." What a perfect way to begin a first-person novel about an aging rockstar/one-man-zeitgeist. And one amazing feat of this chapter--and the book as a whole really--is that, despite how few details he reveals, we believe that our narrator, Bucky Wonderlick, has bathed in the putrid, holy waters of this excess. In fact, he has given everything to this excess. He has imparted "erotic terror to the dreams of the republic." He "feeds himself on outrage" which includes "hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs." This is the man who wants to talk to us for the next 265 pages about why he left in the middle of a tour to hole up in a rundown apartment on the titular "Great Jones Street." And believe me, I want to listen.But more specifically, I want to listen most when he actually treats the reader like a confidant. While I enjoyed all of Bucky's semantic riddles that he weaves with members of the media, managers, and desperate band members (think an even more glib and witty version of Dylan circa "Don't Look Back")I felt a bit disappointed down the stretch that DeLillo never allowed his creation a real sense of human vulnerability. I can't imagine him actually having had a childhood. It's also impossible to think how he first got to where he is now. In his effort to make Bucky a soul-drained wanderer in a hyper-real media culture, DeLillo might have actually drained the man's soul, which leaves us mostly with a very clever satire, punctuated with moments of entrancing darkness. I can see how this might be enough for some readers. The sentences alone are glorious. Yet, without spoiling too much, our hero has a non-reaction to a very important death, only a passing interest in another very important death, and no interest whatsoever in having an actual conversation with anyone. I felt myself wishing to have just a few moments of the kind of x-ray a true rock tell-all promises. Though, in its favor, add a nice drug-related payoff down the stretch, the best band manager in fictional history, and a hilariously sad hack writer who haunts the upstairs of the building. There was much to like here. It's just hard to fall in love with cleverness and bile. Especially bile. But I suppose Bucky has lost his capacity for love, and it might have been too much to ask to wish I felt a heart beating in his tale.

Jess Palmer

I've been meaning to read Great Jones Street for two years now, on the recommendation of a complete stranger. Separated from friends at a concert, I chatted up the people around me. One was a writer, and when we got to talking about books he said this was his favorite. By no means is it the best book I've ever read, but I definitely enjoyed it. The ex-rock star narrator, Bucky Wunderlick, is amusingly aloof and brings you into his disenchanted frame of mind. He isn't a character I want to be, but certainly one I want to read about. My favorite part, however, was the setting. The New YorkCity scenes are bleak, dirty, and filled with strange characters that appear in a random, and entertaining, succession. The Lower East Side of Manhattan is an area I'm familiar with, but here it is written about in a time I will never get to experience: forty years ago at the peak of rock 'n' roll.


A dense piece of Nixon-era paranoia, with all the concerns of that era - excess, illusion, the nature of fame and power, the dark end of the sixties dream - I dont know, maybe I was expecting Performance or something, but Delillo really set himself an impossible task in having to create and give voice to the kind of rock star magus figure that the novel required. You just can't invent a Dylan or a Jagger or a Bowie, or you can try but it's going to be embarrasing - especially if you're going to include fake lyrics..ew. Having said that, this novel totally hooked me, it is an early and intense work and beneath the pretensions and overly stylised language ('Music was a liquid presence in that chamber, invisible wine for the ear to taste.' - Delil-no!) you sense a unique and important mind struggling to break through.


Premessa: questo è uno di quei libri sfortunati che ogni volta che ti metti a leggerli succede qualcosa che interrompe/disturba la lettura. Quindi sappiate che non l'ho letto attentissimamente.Fatto sta che comunque non mi è piaciuto tantissimo, ma non mi è neanche dispiaciuto. È scritto bene, soprattutto per quanto riguarda i dialoghi, personaggi caratterizzati bene eccetera. Il problema sta nella trama e in certe scene che non hanno né capo né coda, nel senso che non sono conseguenza di niente e non causano niente. Semplicemente arriva un personaggio, dice le sue battute, se ne va, e se non le avesse dette non sarebbe cambiato nulla.Il libro decolla veramente intorno a pagina 93, quando succede una certa cosa che sarebbe dovuta succedere, secondo me, una settantina di pagine prima. La trama quindi è debole ed ha un'importanza relativa, e forse è l'intento dell'autore. Il libro è scritto in prima persona dal punto di vista del protagonista, una rockstar che si è un po' rotta di stare sempre in tournée e in sala d'incisione e che quindi decide di andare in un appartamento in Great Jones Street per isolarsi dal mondo. Il punto di vista è molto introspettivo, e la trama è meno importante che in altri romanzi, ma questo lo rende anche meno appassionante. Comunque è un libro che penso di rileggere, credo ci sia di più di quanto non abbia notato.Consigliato se vi piacciono i romanzi introspettivi e psicologici.


This book is long stretches of stream-of-consciousness diatribes punctured by short understated bursts of violent action. I was unable to decide if the events being described were real or some extended fantastic sequence in the protagonist's mind threaded into the utter banality of existence in a street in New York and I suspect that the author intended it that way. The songs that interspersed the book were interesting though, in my opinion, did not add to the main plot of the book. In the end the book feels like a coherent whole (though the last chapter felt somewhat out-of-place and aimless) and is an okay read.


Not only is this book a remnant of the past, it is a remenant that is achingly birthing itself and has been, in the pop culture since 2000, finding new the voice of nihilism and "the void" to the youth culture.Back when Great Jones Street lacked an ATM and Country Blue Grass Blues wasn't a clothing store, there lived a race of children that repopulated a Manhattan that had become, frankly, Escape from New York. But there was some beauty in it.There must be, or why would Jennifer Clement's book "Widow Basquiat" be interesting? Or former members of Television be lecturing at the Smithsonian about the Bowery?And, check it out, Houston? This book is, as usual, enigmas and riddles and puns of DeLillo, a brilliant American Etymologist, who reduces Humanity in Time and Space to a specific Species and Studies them, intently and intensely.Plus if you've ever been around this area bordering the East and West Village in NYC, you can see how it tries to stay the same as it ever was, and how this kind of fame and the inevitability of runningoutofspace...Read this first and then "The Albertine Notes" in Rick Moody's "3 Novellas". And if you ever lived in New York, you'll be nostalgic, and if you lived below 14th street, you'll be back in the club."Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic. Understand the man who must inhabit these extreme regions, monstrous and vulval, damp with memories of violation. Even if half-mad he is absorbed into the public's total madness; even if fully rational, a bureaucrat in hell, a secret genius of survival, he is sure to be destroyed by the public's contempt for survivors. Fame, this special kind, feeds itself on outrage, on what the counselors of lesser men would consider bad publicity-hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs. Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide.(Is it clear I was a hero of rock'n'roll?)Toward the end of the final tour it became apparent that our audience wanted more than music, more even than its own reduplicated noise. It's possible the culture had reached its limit, a point of severe tension. There was less sense of simple visceral abandon at our concerts during these last weeks. Few cases of arson and vandalism. Fewer still of rape. No smoke bombs or threats of worse explosives. Our followers, in their isolation, were not concerned with precedent now. They were free of old saints and martyrs, but fearfully so, left with their own unlabeled flesh. Those without tickets didn't storm the barricades, and during a performance the boys and girls directly below us, scratching at the stage, were less murderous in their love of me, as if realizing finally that my death, to be authentic, must be self-willed- a succesful piece of instruction only if it occured by my own hand, preferrably ina foreign city. I began to think their education would not be complete until they outdid me as a teacher, until one day they merely pantomimed the kind of massive response the group was used to getting. As we performed they would dance, collapse, clutch each other, wave their arms, all the while making absolutely no sound. We would stand in the incandescent pit of a huge stadium filled with wildly rippling bodies, all totally silent. Our recent music, deprived of people's screams, was next to meaningless, and there would have been no choice but to stop playing. A profound joke it would have been. A lesson in something or other.In Houston I left the group, saying nothing, and boarded a plane for New York City, that contaminated shrine, place of my birth. I knew Azarian would assume leadership of the band, his body being prettiest. As to the rest, I left them to their respective uproars- news media, promotion people, agents, accountants, various members of the managerial peerage. The public would come closer to understanding my disappearance than anyone else. It was not quite as total as the act they needed and nobody could be sure whether I was gone for good. For my closest followers, it foreshadowed a period of waiting. Either I'd return with a new language for them to speak or they'd seek a divine silence attendant to my own.I took a taxi past the cemetaries toward Manhattan, tides of ash-light breaking across the spires. new York seemed older than the cities of Europe, a sadistic gift of the sixteenth century, ever on the verge of plague. The cab driver was young, however, a freckled kid with a moderate orange Afro. I told him to take the tunnel."Is there a tunnel?" he said. ""I went to the room in Great Jones Street, a small crooked room, cold as a penny, looking out on warehouses, trucks and rubble. There was snow on the windowledge. Some rags and an unloved ruffled shirt of mine had been stuffed into places where the window frame was warped and cold air entered. The refrigerator was unplugged, full of record albums, tapes, and old magazines. I went to the sink and turned on both taps all the way, drawing an intermittent trickle. Least is best. I tried the radio, picking up AM only at the top of the dial, FM not at all.""The industrial loft buildings along Great Jones seemed misproportioned, broad structures half as tall as they should have been, as if deprived of light by the great skyscraper ranges to the north and south.""Transparanoia owns this building," he said." She wanted to be lead singer in a coke-snorting hard-rock band but was prepared to be content beating a tambourine at studio parties. Her mind was exceptional, a fact she preferred to ignore. All she desired was the brute electricity of that sound. To make the men who made it. To keep moving. To forget everything. To be that sound. That was the only tide she heeded. She wanted to exist as music does, nowhere, beyond maps of language. Opal knew almost every important figure in the business, in the culture, in the various subcultures. But she had no talent as a performer, not the slightest, and so drifted along the jet trajectories from band to band, keeping near the fervers of her love, that obliterating sound, until we met eventually in Mexico, in somebody's sister's bed, where the tiny surprise of her name, dropping like a pebble on chrome, brought our incoherent night to proper conclusion, the first of all the rest, transactions in reciprocal tourism.She was beautiful in a neutral way, emitting no light, defining herself in terms of attrition, a skinny thing, near blond, far beyond recall from the hard-edged rhythms of her life, Southwestern woman, hard to remember and forget...There was never a moment between us that did not measure the extent of our true connection. To go harder, take more, die first."


This one really deserves 3 1/2 stars and I'm also grading it somewhat relatively to Don DeLillo's other novels and it does pale a bit in comparison. The main premise of this is that a big rock star lead singer gets bogged down within the realm of the mass consciousness and retreats unexpectantly and suddenly to the realm of the private. However, instead of his mountain hideout, he actually goes to an apt. in NYC. Some of this is my speculation but I think DeLillo was making some pretty accurate statements about one's anonymity in this city and the potential, like a single frail molecule, to dissolve. As expected, he meets some shady characters and gets roped into a really wretched drug ring. Throughout all of the chaos of the novel, the main character stays assuredly calm and doesn't seem to manifest any great fear of death or torture, which is atypical of most protagonists put in this position. The weakness in terms of that is you don't get a sense of him as a main character and he comes off as having a real flat affect. The strengths of this book by far are within the descriptions of NYC and not within the details of his characters. Also, although I thought I would really like this plot as I'm into music, I ended up not caring for it nearly as much as Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet. If you are looking for a DeLillo novel to start with, I wouldn't recommend this one as much as his classic White Noise, though I really liked Mao II much better.

Mariano Hortal

Publicado en“Las señales del comercio fueron apareciendo lentamente por la calle Great Jones, los envíos y las recepciones, el empaquetado de exportaciones, los curtidos por encargo. Era una calle antigua. De hecho, sus materiales eran su esencia, lo cual explicaba la fealdad de hasta el último centímetro. Pero no era una miseria terminal. Hay calles que en plena decadencia poseen una especie de tono redentor, cierta sugerencia de formas nuevas que están a punto de evolucionar, y Great Jones era una de aquellas calles, siempre suspendida al borde de la revelación. Papel, hilo, cueros, herramientas, hebillas, monturas y artículos de regalo. Alguien abrió la puerta de la empresa de pulidos. Por los adoquines de la calle Lafayette llegaban camiones viejos retumbando. Los camiones se turnaban para subirse a la acera, donde varios de ellos se pasaban el día entero, ligeramente escorados, y a su alrededor caminaban hombres barrigudos con sujetapapeles en las manos, con facturas, con recibos de carga entregada, unos hombres que jamás paraban de tirarse de los pantalones para arriba. Una mujer negra emergió de la mancha de un coche abandonado, recitando entrecortadamente una canción. De la bahía llegaba un viento cortante.”No suelo comenzar con párrafos directamente, no es mi estilo; aunque sí que es cierto que, ahora que ya tengo otras reseñas de diversos autores en el blog ,con su ficha ya no hace falta introducirlos más sino centrarme en los aspectos que interesen de sus obras por estilo, temas tratados y/o sentido final de dicha obra. Tal es el caso con el norteamericano Don Delillo y la obra que traigo a continuación “La calle Great Jones”, tercera obra de su ingente producción literaria y que estaba incluida en mi Proyecto literario que tiene como objetivo terminar toda la obra de mis autores favoritos.La presencia del párrafo inicial, en este caso, cobra una especial relevancia ya que Delillo tiene la especial habilidad de sorprenderme cuando leo cada una de sus frases; tiene la innata capacidad, el genio creativo para utilizar imágenes, metáforas, comparaciones, etc. aplicadas de una forma tal que, desde luego, se alejan de los lugares comunes transitados por la mayoría de escritores del montón. En este texto que he puesto al principio se resume en un momento parte de estas cualidades que hacen único al norteamericano. “La calle Great Jones” es descrita como su fuera un personaje más (“Hay calles que en plena decadencia poseen una especie de tono redentor, cierta sugerencia de formas nuevas que están a punto de evolucionar”); cuánta belleza en cada una de sus palabras y en el conjunto, esa sensación de que, no solo te “choca” la descripción sino que además funciona en el propio texto y en el conjunto de la obra. Está sensación se produce de tal forma cuando leo a este escritor que me da casi lo mismo lo que está contando, lo que sé seguro es que este flujo de sensaciones me lleva y siento un placer hedonista al leerlo.En el caso de Delillo, afortunadamente, no cuenta solo el cómo lo hace, con ese estilo inigualable que le vuelve uno de los cinco o seis mejores escritores actuales; lo que cuenta también interesa sobremanera, y, a pesar de ser una obra primeriza (como era el caso de “Americana” de la que hablé este mismo año ) de fondo hay una serie de reflexiones que irán evolucionando a lo largo de su imprescindible carrera literaria.La historia es sencilla en su premisa, tenemos la retirada momentánea del músico Bucky Wunderlick, músico que es el líder de un grupo en su apogeo en los setenta y que siente que tiene que encontrar otra forma de hacer las cosas, encontrarse a sí mismo y demonstrar que puede seguir haciendo algo por la música y la sociedad; la música, en particular se convierte en verdadera protagonista:“El submundo está todo revuelto por una superdroga. ¿Has oído hablar de ella? Francamente, la noticia me deja frío. La música es el hipnótico supremo. La música consigue sacarme de todo. Me transporta del todo. La música es peligrosa de muchísimas maneras. Es lo más peligroso que hay en el mundo.”Bucky Wunderlick, álter ego de Delillo en esta ocasión, expresa su preocupación por la degeneración de la música, y, en general, del arte; es consciente de la importancia que debería tener y, sobre todo, de lo que debería influenciar a la sociedad : “El artista verdadero hace moverse a la gente. Cuanto la gente lee un libro o mira un cuadro, están ahí sentados o de pie, pero quietos. Eso estaba bien hace mucho tiempo, molaba, era arte. Ahora todo es distinto. Yo hago moverse a la gente. Mi sonido los levanta del puto suelo. Yo lo consigo. Entiéndanme. Yo lo consigo.”En esta búsqueda del verdadero arte unido a su crecimiento personal está la clave de lo que busca el escritor a través de su protagonista, el músico, que se topa de frente con un mundo que , por el contrario, no parece interesado, nada más que marginalmente, en esta verdadera extensión de lo que supone el arte, como leemos en boca del periodista de ABC que habla con Buddy al intentar sacar una entrevista:“-Tengo un espacio en las noticias de media mañana. Por si acaso no me reconoces. Me ocupo de los acontecimientos para jóvenes y de las personalidades del mundo juvenil. Sí, es el mismo lavado de cerebro comercial de toda la vida contra el que todos luchamos, pero, por otro lado, la única forma que tenemos de darles cobertura a ciertas voces es encajarlas en pequeños huecos de la programación que van quedando aquí y allá.”La búsqueda no la realiza el solo, su amante y alguno de sus miembros del grupo, e incluso su manager Globke ayudarán, aunque sea inconscientemente a que esa identidad se acabe de formar y encuentre lo que pueda hacer más feliz a sus seguidores, la forma en que uno de sus miembros se refiere a la música negra nos eleva al paraíso de la palabra de Delillo:“Es todo amor y tristeza, Bucky, y me está destruyendo emocionalmente. Esas emociones toscas y estúpidas resultan increíblemente hermosas. Esas baladas tristonas con pasajes esporádicos en falsete. Y hasta cuando escucho los discos me los imagino moviéndose por el escenario, haciendo esos meneítos y arrastrando los pies y agitando las manos. Con el pelo reluciente. Con los esmóquines a medida. Con las dentaduras y las uñas fantásticas. Y las emociones baratas que transmiten las letras me dejan hecho polvo.”Las emociones primigenias pueden ser la respuesta; el olvido de la complicación, la sencillez por encima de todo, como en palabras de Globke, su mánager, podemos inferir:“Ya estamos todos hartos de phasings instantáneos y de dieciséis pistas y de sintetizadores La gente quiere algo sencillo. Sencillo pero complicado. La clase de material que tú y solamente tú puedes darles. No me interesan los niveles en la música popular ni siquiera sé si este material tiene niveles o no. [...] Ese es el poder de las citas de la montaña, tal como yo las veo desde mi perspectiva personal. No es mi sonido. No es el sonido que yo escucho cuando miro desde la ventana de mi dormitorio en la otra orilla en la otra orilla del río una noche de verano y mi mujer está sentada en la cama leyendo a los maestros orientales y la luz de la luna se refleja en el río y las grandes torres putrefactas de Manhattan se despliegan a lo largo de la noche y yo apago el aire acondicionado y abro una venta e introduzco un cartucho en mi equipo de música.”El mismo Delillo nos anticipa una de sus obsesiones, de hecho, de ello hablé en esta otra reseña a propósito de “Los nombres”:“Ese es el poder de los nombres. La gente actúa en consonancia con sus nombres. Hay un sector diminuto del cerebro humano donde está situado el mecanismo que pone los nombres.”El poder de los nombres, de la palabra, con toda su extensión bíblica, aplicado al arte, se trate del que se trate: música, libros, pintura…. El arte por encima de todo como verdadero catalizador del sentido y de la identidad de nuestras vidas.Los textos provienen de la traducción del inglés de Javier Calvo para esta edición de “La calle Great Jones” de Don Delillo para la editorial Seix Barral


ok, so this book had me totally confused. the back cover says it's "the best rock n roll novel ever written!" so...i was expecting a novel about a rock star doing rock star things. it was far from this. sure, it included it's fair share of sex, drugs and song lyrics, but what i wasn't expecting was the "conspiracy theory" sci-fi angle it took. Pretty soon you are making connections between the main character and jim morrisson (or even kurt cobain) and plots involving the government controlling the masses by controlling the underground rock n roll community. it took me a while to like this book because i was so deceived in the beginning, but now that i'm reviewing it, i think i love it.


This was my first DeLillo book. How is that pronounced anyway? I keep wanting to say, "Duh-Leeyo." No, I'm pretty sure it's pronounced phonetically, because that's how the friend who's been recommending him to me for years pronounces it, "DeLillo." Anyway, I'm pretty enthusiastic about this book. I'm very much looking forward to checking out his catalogue.The book is about the nature of fame and sex and attention and addiction and other things. It's not a long book. It's well constructed in a postmodern kinda way. Bucky Wunderlick is a Bobby Zimmerman type who just wants to chill out and be Robert for a while. Too bad everyone has to go and make his life so extreme. He might as well just kill himself, or maybe return to the stage?


I LOVE VACATION! I can actually finish a book. Anyway, this one is like Crying of Lot 49 Lite, which is alright for holiday I guess. The drug/rockstar/paranoia plot is a tight draw but he just ends up hitting you over the head with it. Really, by the last chapter I was just looking forward to getting to the not-so-surprising conclusion of rockstar Bucky Wunderlick, but maybe because I've got a book about Spain to read and I'm here, so Great Jones Street, even set in the '70s, is reminding me of what's waiting at home and I'm having so much fun I don't want to come back, not yet anyway. This review ended up being not so much about the book. Oh well: here's my favorite quote to bring it all back: "You have been listening to a panel discussion on a subject yet to be agreed on. Our panelists will now disrobe and paint each other's bodies in colorful native pigments."

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